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The Qur’ân Seminar (University of Notre Dame/IQSA, 2012-2016)

The Qur'ân Seminar (University of Notre Dame/IQSA, 2012-2016)

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The Qur’ân Seminar

The Qurʾan Seminar is an academic project, funded by a Sawyer Seminar grant of the Mellon Foundation and hosted by the University of Notre Dame, dedicated to advancing our scholarly understanding of the Qurʾanic text. The project, led by Gabriel Said Reynolds and Mehdi Azaiez, involves the collaboration of scholars worldwide, a series of public lectures by leading Muslim intellectuals, and the production of an innovative commentary on 50 central Qurʾanic passages.


The Qurʾan Seminar is dedicated above all to the study of 50 passages of the Qurʾan, passages chosen in order to represent: 1. themes of central importance to the text itself, 2. a diversity of literary genres, 3. material equally distributed throughout the Qurʾan’s 114 Suras, 4. topics which have received particular attention in classical and contemporary Qurʾanic exegesis.

Through an online interface, the 26 scholars affiliated with the Qurʾan Seminar will reflect on these passages – and comment on the reflections of others – during the academic year 2012-13. In addition, five colloquia will take place at Notre Dame during the course of that year. These colloquia will involve round table scholarly discussions of the passages at issue and a series of lectures by Muslim intellectuals. These lectures will be recorded and publicly available through this website. The scholarly work of the Qur’an Seminar group will be published in both online and print versions — announcements regarding the publication of this work will appear here.


In line with new developments in Qurʾanic studies, the discussions of the Qurʾan Seminar will be centered around three questions: 1. the structure of the Qurʾan (its logical, rhetorical, and literary qualities, or naẓm), 2. the Qurʾan’s intertextual relationships (with both Biblical and other literary traditions), and 3. the Qurʾan’s historical context in Late Antiquity.

In this regard, the approach of the seminar is Qurʾanist inasmuch as scholars will address the Qurʾan directly and not rely on the categories of medieval exegesis as a lens through which to view the text.

Research Dissemination

At the end of the project, the online scholarly commentary of the Qurʾan Seminar will be made public on the internet and in a unique format which will allow students of the Qurʾan to recognize the plurality of voices, and opinions, on each passage studied. In addition, the public lectures associated with the seminar, along with a scholarly resources for the study of the Qurʾan prepared by the project’s fellows, will be published in print form. Videos of the public lectures will also be made publicly available on this website.

Research Group
Co-Directors: Gabriel Said Reynolds (Tisch Family Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology, University of Notre Dame) and Mehdi Azaiez (Postdoctoral fellow, University of Notre Dame).

Fellows: Munʿim Sirry (post-doctoral fellow, University of Notre Dame), Hamza Mahmood (doctoral fellow, Cornell University), Emmanuelle Stefanidis (doctoral fellow, University of Paris VIII).

For a presentation of all 26 scholars of the Qurʾan Seminar, see the contributors page.

Public lectures

The Qurʾān Seminar involves a series of public lectures by leading Muslim intellectuals.

Sunday, September 30, 2012, 7:30 PM
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im
Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law (Emory Law School, Georgia, USA)
“The Qur’ān and Islamic Law”
Eck Hall of Law, Room 1140
Reception to follow

Wenesday, October 24, 2012, 7:30 PM
Mun’im Sirry
Postdoctoral fellow (Notre Dame, Indiana, USA)
“Reinterpreting Qur’ānic Criticism of Other Religions”
Auditorium of the Hesburgh Center for International Studies (between the Kroc and Kellog Institutes)
Reception to follow

Thursday, December 6, 2012, 7:30 PM
Nayla Tabbara
Director of Cross-Cultural Studies Department (Adyan Foundation, Lebanon)
“The Qur’ān and Muslim-Christian relations”
Andrews Auditorium, Geddes Hall
Reception to follow

Friday, December 7, 2012
Maryam Musharraf
Associate Professor of Persian Language and Literature (Shahid Beheshti University, Iran)
“The Qur’ān and Islamic Mysticism”

Thursday, February 21, 2013, 7:30 PM
Shawkat Toorawa
Associate Professor of Arabic Literature and Islamic Studies (Cornell University, New York, USA)
“How to Translate the Qurʾān”
Andrews Auditorium, Geddes Hall
Reception to follow

Thursday, April 11, 2013, 7:30 PM
Abdolkarim Soroush

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